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Beach Party Paris

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During the normal year, the Georges Pompidou Expressway in Paris is

packed with cars and motorcyclists zipping from one side of the city to another. But for the past ten years during the month of August, the road is transformed from a busy expressway into a pedestrian-only beachside retreat–complete with sand, palm trees, loungers, umbrellas, ice cream vendors, pop up cafes, misting showers, floating pools, volleyball courts, and free concerts.

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Paris-Plages ("Paris Beaches"), as the event is known, was started in 2002

by then-mayor Bertrand Delanoe as a way to offer relief to city-dwellers who couldn't escape the city for a seaside holiday during the dog days of August. Since then, Paris-Plages has become an annual event enjoyed by both Parisians and foreign tourists alike.

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At first, only a single "beach" was created along the Right Bank but the event proved so popular that a second beach was added on the Left Bank. In 2007, 4 million people took advantage of the sandy banks to sunbathe, swim, play sports, and enjoy the unique experience of a having a beach party in central Paris.

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There are a few rules: topless sunbathing is not allowed and neither is swimming in the Seine (though kayaking and boating are permissible). The city does provide floating pools for those who want a dip and there are plenty of other opportunities to indulge in traditional "beachside" activities.

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Sporty types can play some volleyball or rubgy right in front of the Hôtel-de-Ville .

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While creative folk can get imaginative with the sand.

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The best thing about the majority of these events? They're 100% free, due, it must be noted, to corporate sponsorship. But don't worry about having logos and lackeys invading your space while enjoying the sunshine; the advertising is generally very low key and there's little worry the event become overly commercialized.

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But probably the nicest element of Paris-Plages is the fact that the roads are completely shut off to traffic for the entirity of the

event. Instead of cars and scooters, you'll see rollerbladers, and pedestrians strolling along the beach and taking in the sunny day without choking on car exhaust. In the future, the city plans to add cabaret boats, venues, and even more beaches in farther reaches of the city, turning Paris into a sort of urban beachside resort for the people throughout the month of August.

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If you're inspired to visit Paris-Plages this year, has a handpicked collection of Paris Vacation Rentals in great locations all over the city and at great rates as well. Check them all out on the website and we'll see you at the "beach"! MT

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  • This looks awesome! Haven’t heard this place before. Will be heading to Paris this March and this will be on my top list to visit. Thank you for sharing!!

  • remy @ cool travel blogs

    September 27, 2012

    Wow that looks amazing! I am definitely going to try and make it for next time! Really glad you shared this as not heard of it before!

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